Posts Tagged ‘friendship’

A Fresh Look at a Frog Prince – Kiss Me! (I’m a Prince)

Posted on November 13th, 2011 by Carolyn Hart

Kiss Me I'm a Prince written by Heather McLeod and illustrated by Brooke KerriganKiss Me! (I’m and Prince!) written by Heather McLeod and illustrated by Brooke Kerrigan
Picture book published by Fitzhenry & Whiteside

When young Ella chances upon a talking frog, she is not altogether sure that kissing his puckered froggy lips is a good idea. For Ella, the idea of a talking frog is much more appealing than the prospect of kissing him and turning him into a boring frog prince. Ella is a fan of play – she likes basketball, swimming and Simon Says. Ella’s reluctance to kiss her new froggy friend means that he has a chance to enjoy traditional childhood games and to behave in some ways that are not at all royal. Eventually, representatives of the palace arrive. The royal frog is returned to a life of fencing and studying but not before Ella’s ideas have made a lasting impression. The frog negotiates with his parents for more playtime before returning to ask Ella for a magical kiss so he can join the neighbourhood baseball team.

An enjoyable read aloud for children aged four and up, Kiss Me! (I’m and Prince!) provides many opportunities for children to make predictions and also invites comparisons with other versions of The Frog Prince.

Kiss Me! (I’m a Prince) at

Kiss Me! (I’m a Prince!) at

A “Hello” Can Make a World of Difference – So Close by Natalia Colombo

Posted on November 11th, 2011 by Carolyn Hart

Storytime Standouts reviews a book that encourages readers to be friendly and to smileSo Close written and illustrated by Natalia Colombo
Picture book published by Tundra Books

With a message that will resonate with adults as well as children, So Close reminds us that the possibility of meeting a new friend is often not far away. Mr. Duck and Mr. Rabbit rush past each other every day, not realizing what they are missing in their haste. Beautifully illustrated with painterly artwork, So Close offers a gentle message that a smile and a friendly, “Hello” can make a world of difference.

I use this title at the beginning of my Celebrating Diversity workshops. I think we have all had the experience of missing an opportunity for a friendship or discovering a friendship under surprising circumstances. So Close is well-suited to classroom use. It could be used to encourage discussion of friendship, loneliness, social situations, hurrying and over-scheduling.

Well suited to children 4 years and up. Also available in a Spanish edition.

So Close at

So Close at

You may also be interested in our page titled “Diversity.” We highlight picture books and chapter books that celebrate and inform us about human diversity including learning disabilities, physical disabilities, allergies, single parent families, interracial families, same sex parents, aging, death and more.

Don’t miss our page of quotes about diversity.

Stimulating Language Development with Wordless Picture Books

Posted on November 9th, 2011 by Carolyn Hart

Stimulating Language Development with Wordless Picture Books by Storytime StandoutsChicken and Cat Clean Up written and illustrated by Sara Varon
Wordless Picture Book published by Scholastic

If you have not yet enjoyed a wordless picture book with your child(ren), I would like to introduce you to this genre. “Reading” wordless picture books together with your child stimulates language development because the “reader” takes an active part in telling the story. Once you and your child have “read” the story from beginning to end hopefully your child will enjoy the opportunity to retell the tale – a key reading readiness skill.

In Chicken and Cat Clean Up we follow the misadventures of two dissimilar friends who operate a housekeeping business. Chicken is an excellent housekeeper but Cat is repeatedly challenged by the job. The bright, cheerful illustrations provide a fun account of operating a small buiness, an enduring friendship and how an opportunity for heroism might be just around the corner. Really good fun!

Chicken And Cat Clean Up at

Chicken and Cat Clean Up at

Our page about Wordless and Almost Wordless Picture Books

I’ll Always Love You – Helping Kids Cope With the Death of a Pet

Posted on November 5th, 2011 by Carolyn Hart

Books can be enormously helpful for both parents and children when they face difficult and emotional situations.

I'll Always Love You by Hans Wilhelm Helps Kids Cope With the Death of a PetI’ll Always Love You written and illustrated by Hans Wilhelm
Picture book about the death of a pet published by Dragonfly Books, an imprint of Random House

In I’ll Always Love You we meet a young boy and his much loved dog, Elfie. Elfie and the boy share many experiences but as the boy grows up, Elfie grows old. This sweet tribute to a family pet explains the dog’s death respectfully and lovingly. In addition, the story serves as a reminder that expressing our love to those around us can be of some comfort when we must deal with loss.

32 pages, suitable for children aged four years and up

I’ll Always Love You at

I’ll Always Love You at

You can be whoever you want to be – The Boy in the Dress

Posted on November 3rd, 2011 by Carolyn Hart

Storytime Standouts writes about middle grade fiction, The Boy in the DressThe Boy in the Dress written by David Walliams

I really didn’t know quite what to expect when I picked up The Boy in the Dress. I guess you could say I was pretty much, ‘ready for anything.’ What I discovered was a thoughtful, poignant and humorous look at the life of a twelve year old boy who loves to play football (soccer) and whose best friend is a young Sikh. Dennis lives with his older brother and his heartbroken father. He misses his mum (mom) terribly and can’t seem to come to grips with the idea that she won’t be coming back to the family. Dennis enjoys sports and has many friends but he finds his day to day existence extremely ‘ordinary.’

After accidentally heading a ball through a school window and into the headmaster’s office, Dennis is told he must go to detention after school. When he arrives in detention, he discovers that he won’t be alone. Lisa, the most beautiful girl in the school, is also in the room. Dennis finds Lisa extremely attractive. He is delighted when they become friends and he has an opportunity to walk her home after school. Lisa and Dennis discover a mutual love of fashion and Vogue magazine which leads to Dennis attempting to disguise himself as a girl and assuming a rather extraordinary identity at school.

Superbly illustrated by Quentin Blake, The Boy in the Dress is very reminiscent of Roald Dahl’s wonderful books. It provides a humorous, thoughtful affirmation that, “You can be whoever you want to be.”

Lexile Level – 650L

The Boy in the Dress at

The Boy In The Dress at

You may also be interested in our page titled “Diversity.” We highlight picture books and chapter books that celebrate and inform us about human diversity including learning disabilities, physical disabilities, allergies, single parent families, interracial families, same sex parents, aging, death and more.

Don’t miss our page of quotes about diversity.

When Randolph Turned Rotten – helping kids deal with emotions

Posted on October 22nd, 2011 by Carolyn Hart

Storytime Standouts writes about When Randolph Turned Rotten - helping kids deal with emotions
When Randolph Turned Rotten written and illustrated by Charise Mericle Harper
Picture book about dealing with emotions published by Alfred A Knopf

Be sure to check out our page about anti-bullying picture books for children, our page about anti bullying chapter books, graphic novels and novels for children , and our Pinterest anti bullying board

Ivy, who is a goose, and Randolph, who is a beaver, find their friendship put to the test when Ivy is invited to an all-girl sleepover and Randolph is not. He feels left out. Ivy’s excitement about the upcoming party is too much for Randolph. Suddenly he feels sad and jealous and he decides to make Ivy feel just as horrible as he does.

Amusing illustrations and a charming storyline will help young children understand that not-so-nice feelings are a part of life and good friendships will endure.

Especially great for sharing one-on-one or with a small group, the format (which includes thought clouds and conversations) may be somewhat awkward in a large group setting.

Suggested prereading and postreading activities and questions from WITS

When Randolph Turned Rotten at

When Randolph Turned Rotten at

Have you filled a bucket today? Encourage more positive interactions

Posted on October 9th, 2011 by Jody

Have you filled a bucket today? Encourage more positive interactions in your classroom with this picture book.

Have You Filled a Bucket Today? written by Carol McCloud is a story that offers children a creative way to recognize the impact we all have on each other.

Based on Dr. Donald Clifton’s “How Full is Your Bucket?”, McCloud’s book allows younger audiences a bright and colorful way to understand a unique metaphor. The book explains that each of us has an invisible bucket. When the bucket is full, we feel happy and good about ourselves. When our bucket is empty, we feel sad. People can be “bucket dippers” or “bucket fillers”. What I liked about this part is that she explains that when you fill someone’s bucket, by being kind or thoughtful, you also add to your own bucket. Likewise, if you dip in someone’s bucket, by being unkind or hurtful, you are dipping in your own bucket as well. I think that’s a powerful way to explain to children that being mean or unfair to others does not make you feel good about yourself but being kind to others does. The language is simple and straightforward, making it understandable for even preschool children. Though I think the illustrations are more suitable for younger students, the theme is one that is especially powerful for students of all ages.

Children need to be taught behavior and social expectations along with everything else. Sometimes we take it for granted that they might already know that their actions affect others. In the past couple of weeks, I’ve had a few incidents where some students have spoken quite harshly to other students. When I’ve asked, “why are you speaking to them like that?” the response has been “I don’t know”. Their first response is to react to others with whatever emotion they are feeling at that moment. Offering the suggestion, “try telling them like this…” allows students the opportunity to learn how they can express themselves without hurting someone else. And while this direct instruction is still going to be necessary, establishing a classroom language based on a book such as McCloud’s, is a simple way to weave the concept of more positive interactions into your classroom community.

How we treat others is how we are treated in return. We need this lesson to resonate with our children and with our students. We need them to understand that regardless of how well you do on a test or how high your reading level is, without the ability to interact positively with others, you are at a disadvantage. To be honest, it’s not a bad lesson to impart to adults either. It’s just as easy to offer a kind word as a negative one. The difference is, the domino effect of kindness makes us feel better about ourselves and the world around us.

McCloud also has the books Fill a Bucket and Growing up with a Bucket Full of Happiness.

Have You Filled a Bucket Today? at

Have You Filled a Bucket Today? at

Getting Ready to Read and Beginning to Read, Week Three

Posted on October 6th, 2011 by Carolyn Hart

In this week’s Getting Ready to Read class we talked about letter B and some of the words that begin with b – bumblebee, blue, black, brown, baby, big, bag, bread, book, balloon, basket. We played a guessing game, the answers were items in my brown bag (a basket, a banana, a balloon, etc.)

We also played a game about opposites using words that indicate position (high, low, in front, behind, over, under).

Sharing information about our Getting Ready to Read and Beginning to Read program, week threeThe story for this week was one of my favourites, Otis by Loren Long

Otis is the story of a small tractor who loves life on the farm. When a calf arrives in the stall next to Otis, he befriends the young cow. It is not long before they discover ways to play together in and around Mud Pond.

All is well until a shiny new tractor arrives to work on the farm. Sadly, Otis is parked behind the barn and the new, larger tractor goes to work.

When the little calf gets stuck in Mud Pond, the farmer frantically looks for some way to rescue her. Thankfully, Otis responds when everything else fails and, with hard work and determination, Otis rescues his friend.

Fans of Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel will thoroughly enjoy this gentle story about friendship.

Otis at

Otis at

In this week’s Beginning to Read class we played an alphabet recognition game, I call Boom. It is a fun way to review letter names quickly.

We also spent quite a lot of time, talking about rhyming. Learning about rhyming and recognizing rhyming words enhances your child’s phonemic awareness. We played, making silly rhymes with our names and talking about rhyming words.

Our word family today was the “-all” family. We began with the /all/ sound and added different sounds to it, in order to make words. We made ball, call, fall, hall, mall, tall, wall. Once we had finished playing with sounds, we used letters (b, c, f, h, m, t, w) to change “all” into ball, call, fall, etc.

Having opportunities to blend sounds together and make words will assist your child. When you are in the car or waiting in a lineup, ask your child to blend the /S/ sound with /AT/. Help your child, /S/…… /AT/. If your child can’t figure out the word, bring the sounds closer together /S/…./AT/, and closer… /S/ /AT/ – until your child realizes the word is “SAT.”

Our story today was Lois’ Ehlert’s beautiful tribute to fall leaves, Leaf Man. This is a wonderful story to share at this time of year. The beautiful die cut illustrations are a wonderful inspiration for young artists.

Leaf Man at

Leaf Man at

Teach Preschool’s teaching ideas for The Leaf Man

Harcourt Book’s teacher guide for The Leaf Man

Mousse and Nut usually love to spend time together, a picture book about friendship

Posted on September 17th, 2011 by Carolyn Hart

Encouraging children to learn about getting along, a story about friendship

Mousse and Nut usually love to spend time together, a picture book about friendshipJane Simmons is a favourite author/illustrator for many youngsters. You may be familiar with ‘Daisy’ a charming young duck that appears in many of her books.

Together by Jane Simmons
Picture book about friendship published by Knopf Books for Young Readers

Together is the story of two very good friends; Mousse and Nut. Usually they love to spend time together but one day they can’t agree on anything. As dark clouds gather, they decide they are no longer best friends. In this story about friendship,it takes some time apart to remind each that differences are okay and friendship can endure even when pals are apart.

Together at

Together at

Grade One Chapter Book: Being friends is better than being famous

Posted on August 31st, 2011 by Carolyn Hart

When my boys first ventured into reading grade one chapter books, they were delighted to discover Frog and Toad by Arnold Lobel. Featuring a wonderful friendship and many happy adventures, the Frog and Toad series has been a favorite with young readers for decades.

James Howe’s latest book, Houndlsey and Catina is very reminiscent of the Frog and Toad series. Howe is famous for Bunnicula (Today Vegetables… Tomorrow the World). Houndlsey and Catina will appeal to younger readers who prefer shorter, generously illustrated chapters and less text. It will likely suit a child reading at a mid to late grade one level.

Grade One Chapter Book: Being friends is better than being famous Houndsley and CatinaHoundlsey and Catina written by James Howe and illustrated by Marie-Louise Gay
Chapter book series for kindergarten – grade three published by Candlewick Press

Illustrated beautifully by Marie-Louis Gay, Houndlsey and Catina tells of Catina’s desire to write a prize-winning book and Houndleys’ wish to win a cooking contest. Together, they help us see that being friends “is better than being famous.” This is a lovely tribute to friendship.

Houndsley and Catina at

Houndsley and Catina at

The Frog and Toad Collection Box Set (I Can Read Book 2) at

The Frog and Toad Collection Box Set at

Fabulous Funny Picture Books – You’ll Love Reading These Aloud!

Posted on August 30th, 2011 by Carolyn Hart

Yesterday was tough around here and by bedtime my youngest son was very ready to enjoy some snuggle time and some new picture books. Because it had been a rough day, we wanted something fun. I reached for Duck’s Tale by Harmen van Straaten, Smelly Bill by Daniel Postgate and Grill Pan Eddy by Jeanne Willis and Tony Ross. All three picture books had very appealing cover art and looked as though they would fit the bill.

Funny Picture Book You'll Love to Read including Duck's Tale
Duck’s Tale is a lovely story about the friendship between Toad and Duck. Duck finds a pen and takes it to Toad’s house. Toad is busy when Duck arrives. He is reading the newspaper while wearing his reading glasses. Duck concludes that Toad reads because he has glasses. Duck subsequently decides that possessing a pen should enable him to write.

He writes for an entire day and then invites Toad to ‘read’ his ‘story.’ Not one to disappoint his good friend, Toad ‘reads’ Duck’s Tale beautifully.

Recommended for children 3 and up. Older boys and girls will appreciate the subtleties and perhaps wonder whether Duck actually writes a story and if Toad is able read.

Duck’s Tale at

Duck’s Tale at

Funny Picture Book You'll Love to Read including Smelly Bill
Oh yuk, Smelly Bill is one mucky dog. He loves to roll in mud and rubbish. He steadfastly resists his family’s attempts to de-reek him! When Great Aunt Bleach arrives, she brings her disinfectant and scrub brush. Before long the house is sparkling from top to uh-oh – what is that smell? After a merry chase, Bill endures his bathie-wathie, and makes a mess of poor Great Aunt Bleach. With wonderful rhyming text and fun illustrations, Smelly Bill will be enjoyed by children of all ages.

Smelly Bill at

Smelly Bill at

Funny Picture Book You'll Love to Read including Grill Pan Eddy
Grill Pan Eddy is one smart and daring mouse. Apparently fearless, he taunts his host family and their cat:

“No matter what we tried to do
No matter what we saidy.
There was no way of getting rid
Of that darn Grill Pan Eddy

Eddy has a field day with the exterminator and makes regular appearances throughout the house. Finally beaten, the family grudgingly decides to let him stay.

Tony Ross’ great illustrations are perfect for this irreverent romp. Enjoy it with children 5 and up.

Grill Pan Eddy at

Grill Pan Eddy at

Read Alouds for 7-10 year olds, approved by a difficult-to-please 8 year old boy

Posted on August 19th, 2011 by Carolyn Hart

Great books to read  alouds to 7-10 Year Olds

Finding great books for 7 – 10 year olds to enjoy can be enormously rewarding. The initial learn–to-read phase is complete and we hope our children will chose to read for pleasure. When, as parents, we check to see why things are so quiet and discover our children with a book, it is indeed a special ‘a-ha’ moment.

Just as reading picture books aloud is important to very young children, it is vital that mom and/or dad continues to read aloud to emergent readers. Long after your child reads independently there are books worth exploring together. Sharing wonderful chapter books with your child will motivate him to read more challenging books. There are marvelous fantasies, legends, and mysteries for you and your child to discover.Charlotte's Web

A grade two teacher recently wrote to me, hoping for some read aloud recommendations. She had already shared James and the Giant Peach
by Roald Dahl, Freckle Juice by Judy Blume and Charlotte’s Web
by E.B. White with her class. I replied to her and shared these suggestions – I have personally tested each and every one with a difficult-to-please eight year old boy.

Here are some of my suggested read alouds for 7-10 year olds

Follow this link for many more chapter book suggestions for 7-10 year olds

Storytime Standouts recommends books to read aloud including A Mouse Called WolfA Mouse Called Wolf written by Dick King Smith
Chapter book for 7-10 year olds published by Yearling, an imprint of Random House

When looking for books to share with this age group, I would encourage you to take a look at Dick King-Smith’s books. King-Smith wrote Babe: The Gallant Pig and Ace: A Very Important Pig and numerous other wonderful animal stories. A Mouse Called Wolf is one of my favourites. It explores the love of music and also the loneliness that sometimes accompanies old age.

Reading one of Dick King-Smith’s books might launch a reader into his entire booklist.

A Mouse Called Wolf at

A Mouse Called Wolf at




Storytime Standouts recommends books to read aloud including The Legend of Spud MurphyThe Legend of Spud Murphy written by Eoin Colfer and illustrated by Glenn McCoy
Chapter book for 7-10 year olds published by Miramax

My 8 year old and I enjoyed Eoin Colfer’s Legend of Spud Murphy and Eoin Colfer’s Captain Crow’s Teeth together. Both were good fun and will be enjoyed by 7-10 year olds. The Legend of Spud Murphy has a very good message about reading and books therefore, I chose it as my favourite. Eoin Colfer is the author of the Artemis Fowl series (for older children).

Eoin Colfer’s Legend of Spud Murphy at

Eoin Colfer’s The Legend of Spud Murphy at




Storytime Standouts recommends books to read aloud including The Seven Wonders of Sassafras SpringsThe Seven Wonders of Sassafras Springs written by Betty G. Birney and illustrated by Matt Phelan
Chapter book for 7-10 year olds published by Atheneum Books for Young Readers

For something completely different, I like The Seven Wonders of Sassafras Springs . Here we have a young boy who reads about the Seven Wonders of the World and longs to explore the world outside his hometown. His dad agrees to send him on a trip but first he must find The Seven Wonders of Sassafras Springs.
There are all sorts of opportunities for extention activities, possibly building an entire unit around this book. Perhaps your students could be encouraged to find a ‘wonder’ all their own.

The Seven Wonders of Sassafras Springs at

The Seven Wonders of Sassafras Springs at




Storytime Standouts recommends books to read aloud including Truly Winnie Truly Winnie – written by Jennifer Richard Jacobson and illustrated by Alissa Imre Geis
Chapter book for 7-10 year olds published by Sandpiper

Winnie, Vanessa and Zoe are off to their first overnight camp! They’ll be away from home for two weeks – swimming, climbing, boating and making new friends. Winnie, whose mother died after she was born, knows all too well that she is different from other girls. When she is assigned to a tent away from her closest friends, she is forced to make new friends. When getting to know her fellow campers, Winnie tells of her mother’s many accomplishments and before long is caught in a web of deception.

I read Truly Winnie aloud to my eight-year-old son. When I suggested we give it a try, I thought he might resist because the main characters are all girls (imagine!) In fact, the camp theme and compelling story made the Truly Winnie a good choice for both boys and girls. Nominated for the 2004 Rhode Island Children’s Book Award and chosen by the School Library Journal for their annual Children’s Curriculum, Truly Winnie offers many opportunities for discussion including

How it feels to a be a ‘third wheel”
How being away from home changes the campers and
Why Winnie feels she must invent a mother

Truly Winnie at

Truly Winnie at




Storytime Standouts recommends books to read aloud including The Boy with Lightning FeetThe Boy with Lightning Feet – written by Sally Gardner and illustrated by Lydia Corry
Chapter book for 7-10 year olds published by Orion Children’s Books

Timmy Twinkle has lived with his grandfather since his mom left the family and moved to Spain. The loss of his mom leaves Timmy feeling empty. He tries to fill the void with food and before long he is chubby, friendless and a target for bullies.

Timmy dreams of playing football (soccer), but his weight problem renders him clumsy at sports.

When a friend comes to stay with Timmy and his grandfather, she shares her passion for physical fitness. Before long Timmy is lean and ready to discover the magic in his toes.

Part of Ms. Gardner’s Magical Children series, The Boy with Lightning Feet will hold a special appeal for football (soccer) players and children who lack confidence in their own magical qualities. It was a definite winner in our household.

The Boy with the Lightning Feet at

The Boy with the Lightning Feet at




Storytime Standouts recommends books to read aloud including Sir Gadabout Goes Barking MadSir Gadabout Goes Barking Mad – written by Martyn Beardsley and illustrated by Tony Ross

Sir Gadabout holds the dubious title of Worst Knight in the World. When King Arthur dispatches him to collect Merlin and deliver him in time for the Magic World Cup, Gadabout and company encounter Demelza and Morag, two decidedly wicked witches. Before long, Gadabout is convinced that the witches have turned Merlin – reining world champion wizard – into a talking dog.

Great fun here for young readers and their parents to enjoy together. Read it aloud and enjoy the inside jokes.

Sir Gadabout Goes Barking Mad at

Sir Gadabout Goes Barking Mad at

Chester’s Masterpiece – laughter is the best medicine for writer’s block

Posted on August 16th, 2011 by Jody

Storytime Standout's review of Chester's Masterpiece by Mélanie WattI don’t know if it’s typical for adults to love picture books as much as I do. Many of the adults in my life; my husband, best friend, and co-workers, love them, but we’re all teachers, so maybe it’s just us. However, I think that children’s books are one of the best stress releases ever. The best ones are those that literally make you laugh out loud.

Chester’s Masterpiece written and illustrated by Mélanie Watt
Picture book published by Kids Can Press

For me, this week, that laugh out loud book was Chester’s Masterpiece by Mélanie Watt. I’ve had writers block all week and just happened to read this to my girls and their two friends. I had read Chester, but not his Masterpiece. If you haven’t read either, Chester is a cat that thinks he is much more capable of writing a great book than his creator, Mélanie Watt.

In this particular book, Chester appears to be struggling with some writer’s block as well! His was much funnier than mine. He hides Mélanie’s writing tools so she cannot do her work. They have a witty back and forth through post it notes and sketches. Chester tries hard to create a Masterpiece with Mélanie trying to offer him helpful hints and strongly suggesting he return her tools so she can actually get to work.

This book is truly funny. I am in awe of authors that can create such rich characters without a lot of back story. I am working on a couple of children’s books myself and I always find myself adding in details that don’t need to be shared. Mélanie’s talent for jumping into the story and attracting you to the larger than life characters is inspiring. You can’t help but love Chester, or Scaredy Squirrel, another of her awesome characters. You jump into these books, laugh out loud, and feel better just for having read them.

So, if you need to laugh out loud this week, or just distract yourself from your own writer’s block, pick up a Mélanie Watt book and you won’t be disappointed.

Kids Can Press Chester’s Masterpiece Free PDF Download learn how to draw Chester plus storytime ideas and a wordsearch

Chester’s Masterpiece at

Chester’s Masterpiece at

Noni Says No – picture book explores friendship, gaining confidence

Posted on June 23rd, 2011 by Carolyn Hart

Storytime Standouts looks at Noni Says No, a picture book about friendship and assertiveness.Noni Says No written by Heather Hartt-Sussman and illustrated by Genevieve Cote
Picture book about friendship published by Tundra Books

Be sure to check out our page about anti-bullying picture books for children, our page about anti bullying chapter books, graphic novels and novels for children , and our Pinterest anti bullying board

Noni is a capable, confident young girl most of the time. She knows the alphabet forwards and back, she helps with her baby brother and she is fine when she walks to her friend’s house.

“But now, if her friend Susie asks to sleep over, Noni says yes, even though she sometimes wants to say no. If Susie asks to play with Noni’s special doll, Noni says yes. If Susie asks to borrow her favorite dress, Noni says yes. Noni absolutely, positively cannot say no.”

Noni Says No is a thoughtful examination of friendship and how, in some cases, one child’s desire to please another can come at too great a cost. Noni manages well in most situations but, for some reason, she has great difficulty saying “no” to Susie. Readers will infer that Noni is afraid to say “no” because to do so might jeopardize the friendship.

When Susie’s demands finally push Noni too far, Noni arms herself for an anticipated battle and manages to find her voice.

Genevieve Cote’s powerful illustrations depict Noni’s emotions beautifully. Without a doubt, Noni Says No readers will feel compelled to consider what it means to be a friend and how to assert one’s ideas and opinions respectfully in a friendship. The story will be enjoyed by all children four and up and will have a special resonance for those who lack confidence in social situations.

Noni Says No at

Noni Says No at

Shining a Spotlight on Disappearing Desmond by Anna Alter

Posted on May 20th, 2011 by Carolyn Hart

Disappearing Desmond, a picture book about shynessDisappearing Desmond -written and illustrated by Anna Alter
Picture book about shyness and friendship published by Alfred A. Knopf, an imprint of Random House

Desmond is the sort who likes to remain inconspicuous. Rather than stand out, he likes to blend in and he takes care to hide his true personality. “Then one day someone new came to school. Her name was Gloria and she liked to be noticed. ” Gloria is not at all like her classmates, she notices Desmond even when he is doing his very best to disappear. When Gloria notices that Desmond shares her taste in books, she asks if she can read with him. Gloria and Desmond companionably share the book and Desmond is transformed. The following day Desmond and Gloria play together, each respecting the other. Before long Desmond feels and looks different – he wonders why he ever wanted to disappear.image of illustration from Disappearing Desmond

Disappearing Desmond has a lovely message about finding new friends and respecting differences. Cheerful, acrylic illustrations will have strong appeal for young readers as they search for Desmond. Very observant readers will notice and appreciate the two posters on the library wall.

Activity kit from Anna Alter’s website

Disappearing Desmond at

Disappearing Desmond at

Princess Marty McGuire by Kate Messner Enchants Grade 3 Readers

Posted on May 9th, 2011 by Carolyn Hart

Storytime Standouts introduces a book for grade 3 readers, Marty McGuireMarty McGuire written by Kate Messner and illustrated by Brian Floca

Marty is not yet impressed with grade three. Her former best friend has a new friend who likes dancing. Marty would rather catch frogs than waltz. She misses her friend very much. “Veronica Grace Smithers has stolen my best friend and taken over recess. I’d call Veronica Grace Princess Bossy-Pants if I were allowed to call people names. But I’m not. So I won’t.”

When their teacher announces that the class will be performing The Frog Prince and Marty will be cast as the princess, our young heroine is reluctant to take the stage. Portraying a princess is not for her! Marty McGuire accurately depicts the social challenges experienced by a group of grade three girls as they adapt to change. As well, Marty and her friends manage to find middle ground in this fun, generously illustrated chapter book.

Will be enjoyed by boys and girls, grade two and up.

Marty McGuire at

Marty McGuire at

A Ball for Daisy is a Wordless Picturebook Delight by Chris Raschka

Posted on May 1st, 2011 by Carolyn Hart

Those of us who “know” picture books are very familiar with the wordless and almost wordless variety. I’m not convinced, however, that “non bookies” are aware of the genre or that they understand the important role a wordless picture book can play in early literacy.

Wordless picture books “tell” a story using illustrations only. They encourage active participation and, as a result, are super for stimulating language development. Wordless picture books also move children and adults to a level playing field; a young child is equally able to “read” a well-designed story because there are no words to be decoded. A wordless picture book is great for multilingual families because stories can be discussed in any language. Perhaps most importantly, wordless picture books provide a great platform for story retelling. A youngster who enjoys a wordless picture book with an adult, should be encouraged to retell the story, using his own words, to another adult – a great way to improve the child’s ability to retell a story and thus helping to prepare the child for formal reading instruction.

Every kindergarten and early primary classroom ought to be stocked with some wordless picture books. Here is a brand new title you will want to consider:
Latest Chris Raschka Treat is a Wordless Picturebook Delight:  A Ball for Daisy A Ball for Daisy – created by Chris Raschka
Wordless picture book published by Schwartz and Wade Books, an imprint of Random House

Have you ever suffered the loss of favorite toy? Perhaps it was broken beyond repair? Daisy is an adorable little dog, oozing with personality. She loves her beautiful red ball. Daisy kicks it and bounces it and snuggles with it on the sofa. One day, while enjoying a walk, Daisy encounters a doggy friend who is too exuberant and accidentally punctures the red ball. Daisy is inconsolable; she can’t believe what she sees and she tries everything to make her red ball whole again. Unfortunately, the ball has been destroyed.

Thankfully, Daisy’s friend understands her distress and, when she next visits the park, a lovely new blue ball is waiting. Breezy, bright illustrations, perfect for sharing with a group, guide readers (and non “readers”) through A Ball for Daisy.

Updated January 2012A Ball for Daisy – created by Chris Raschka is the winner of the 2012 Randolph Caldecott Medal

A Ball for Daisy at

A Ball for Daisy at

Our page about Wordless and Almost Wordless Picture Books

Woolly Foursome Finds Friends: The Baabaasheep Quartet

Posted on March 26th, 2011 by Carolyn Hart

Storytime Standouts looks at a picture book about friendship: The Baabaasheep QuartetThe Baabaasheep Quartet – written and illustrated by Leslie Elizabeth Watts
Picture book published by Fitzhenry & Whiteside;

When four sheep retire and move to the city, they adopt a rather cosmopolitan life style – decorating a high rise apartment, attending the opera and dining out. But, they can’t seem to find a way to find new friends. Sadly, they just don’t seem to fit in with city dwellers. Part time gardening jobs are fine until the flower bed looks altogether too delicious. Even their hoof-made baby sweaters have two extra legs! One day, to their delight, they learn of an upcoming Baabaasheep Quartet contest. They feel certain that entering the contest will help them to find friends. The Baabaasheep Quartet practices every day and every where in preparation for the big event. Sure enough, their fine singing voices allow this fun tale to end on a happy note.

From that day on, the Baabaasheep Quartet was a great success…They never encountered any other singing sheep. But wherever they went, whenever they sang, they never again worried about fitting in.

Ages 4-8

Winner of the 2006 Amelia Frances Howard-Gibbon Award for Illustration
2006 Saskatchewan Young Readers’ Choice Shining Willow Award Nominee
Foreword Magazine Book of the Year Award Honorable Mention in the Children’s Picture Book Category
Shining Willow nominee 2006
Canadian Children’s Book Centre Our Choice, 2006

The Baabaasheep Quartet at

The Baabaasheep Quartet at

A Honey of a Story: Jack the Bear created by Christina Leist

Posted on March 23rd, 2011 by Carolyn Hart

Jack the Bear created by Christina Leist reviewed by Storytime StandoutsJack the Bear – written and illustrated by Christina Leist
Picture book that explores social responsibility published by Simply Read Books

When an unfamiliar bear appears in his forest, Nosy Fox is immediately curious. Nosy asks Brainy Owl about the stranger and is unimpressed when Nosy says that Jack the Bear is making the world a better place.

“I thought,” said Nosy Fox, twitching his tail, “that making the world a better place was a job for kings and queens and presidents and prime ministers.”

As Nosy and Brainy observe the stranger from a distance, Brainy answers the fox’s questions and encourages him to reconsider his assumptions about who can make a difference. The world is awfully big, after all, and there are many ways to make it better – some even involve honey!

“Exactly.” Brainy Owl beamed. “Little good deeds that everyone can do, like making somebody smile, turn the world into a better place.”

Nominated for a 2011 Blue Spruce Award, Jack the Bear is a very good starting point for discussions about social responsibility.

It is also worthwhile to note the inventive illustrations were created on recycled brown paper bags using chalk, watercolours, crayon, felt pen, and pencil.

KC Dyer’s photos of the Jack the Bear booklaunch

Jack the Bear at

Jack the Bear at

A Picture Book About Friendship: You by Stephen Michael King

Posted on March 7th, 2011 by Carolyn Hart

You by Stephen Michael King is a picture book about friendshipYou written and illustrated by Stephen Michael King
Picture book about friendship published by Greenwillow Books

Light and breezy, You: A Story of Love and Friendship has got it right. The world is more colourful, more musical and more exciting when shared with a true friend.

In this picture book about friendship, Happy and engaging illustrations invite us to watch as a friends work together to transform a drab birdhouse into a bright and inviting home. When the work is done, they joyfully play music together and manage to endure the highs and lows that life brings.

The world is an exciting place, with ups, downs, around and arounds, and far-far-aways. But the most exciting place in my world is with… you.

Well-suited to very young children, You is a picture book about friendship and love. It would be a great story to share before a parent or friend leaves on a trip.

Be sure to visit the author’s website (link above) and read about Stephen Michael King’s experience as a hearing impaired child and his path to becoming an author-illustrator.

You: A Story of Love and Friendship at

You: A Story of Love and Friendship at

You may also be interested in our Valentine’s Day printables. Storytime Standouts is on Pinterest – Check out our Valentine’s Day Board

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